Something Healthy, Something Asian

Seaweed Salad

One of my favorite dishes to order when we get takeout sushi is seaweed salad. I love the flavor combination and I adore the taste of seaweed. And, it turns out, wakame, the edible seaweed used in this salad, is really good for you – while it’s a little high on sodium, it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of Vitamins A, C, E, K, Niacin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and more (check out the nutritional low-down here).

After the 5,000th time I ordered this salad, I decided that it was time to make it myself. Turns out that the recipes online didn’t quite square up to what I was used to eating and enjoying, so I created my own. You can buy wakame today in most large supermarkets and specialty food stores in Israel in the Asian sections. It comes in 40g and 100g bags. For this recipe, I use 40g. Don’t be alarmed when you see the raw product – it looks like there’s very little in the bag, but once you add water, it expands like crazy in a few minutes. You can also add tofu to make it a really nutritious meal.

While there are a few steps to making this salad, none of them take very much time, and from start to finish this salad takes about 20 minutes to throw together, depending on how many ingredients you add. My recipe has a few options for ingredients, but add whatever you enjoy, just make sure they are crunchy veggies and that they are very thinly sliced so they suck in all that dressing flavor. I’ve made this several times in the past few weeks, and I am addicted.

SEAWEED SALAD

Ingredients

Dressing

1/3 cup Asian rice vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons Mirin (optional)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon minced garlic

Salad

100g (3½ oz) thin rice noodles

40 g (1½ oz) dried wakame

3 small cucumbers (Israeli) peeled and very thinly sliced

2 small red peppers very thinly sliced

A large handful of bean sprouts

(Optional) About 100g (4 oz) firm tofu (add the amount according to your taste)

How to do it

1. Add the noodles to a saucepan of boiling water and stir. Bring the water to the boil and let the noodles cook for 1-2 minutes. Taste them and just as they have softened, remove from the heat, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Tip: I break the noodles into shorter strands so they’re easier to eat.

2. Place the dried wakame in a medium-sized bowl, fill with cold water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then drain well, squeezing out any excess water. The wakame will more or less quadruple in size.

3.  If you are using tofu, cut into into small cubes and marinade it in the dressing for at least an hour before you assemble the salad.

4. Mix the wakame, noodles and all the vegetables (and tofu) in a salad bowl, and add the dressing, mixing it all through well. Allow the salad to sit for at least 2 hours before serving – the longer it sits, the better the flavors will be. This salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Serves about 8.

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Keep warm with hot fruit crumble

Fruit crumble

A hearty winter meal is best ended with a warm fruit crumble.

I’ve tried lots of different versions of fruit crumbles, crisps, buckles, cobblers, but I always come back to the one I’ve been making for what seems like forever. I’ve cobbled together (yes, a shameless pun) a recipe using a recipe from The Joy of Cooking for the crumble part. You know how the book has those two red book-mark ribbons? Well, one of my two ribbons is permanently placed between the pages of this recipe because it’s what I most use this book for. I use my own fresh fruit filling recipe,  which you can vary depending on the season and your preferences. My advice is to always use apples as a base because they are nice and tart and aren’t too watery, so maintain a good consistency. Then add your favorites – strawberries, plums, peaches… To finish it off, serve this with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream of sweetened whipped cream, and send your guests home desperately needing a nap!

This recipe works very well as a parev dessert as well.

HOT FRUIT CRUMBLE

Ingredients

5 cups peeled and very thinly sliced green apples (for variation, cut down apples to 3 cups and add 2 cups of peeled and thinly sliced ripe plums or peaches, or sliced strawberries. For strawberries, slice ahead of time and let them sit in a strainer for about an hour to get rid of excess liquid)

1 cup butter or margarine

2 cups packed brown sugar

1½ cups flour

1½ cups quick cooking oatmeal

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

How to do it

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter/margarine.

3. Add the sugar, flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix together well.

4. Spread half of the crumble mixture on the bottom of a medium-sized ungreased oven-proof dish, and pat down so the bottom of the dish is fully covered. Then spread the fruit over the crumble. Top with the rest of the crumble mixture, spreading it evenly over the fruit.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Serve warm. Serves about 8.